Many years ago, (I’m not saying how many), I needed to get from the west coast to Boston. A friend and I took what I think back then was called a Driveaway car. Someone paid a company to get their car across the country and the company looked for drivers. We weren’t paid; we covered the cost of gas, had a set amount of time for the car to arrive at its destination, and off we went. Now there seems to be a trend for rental vehicles that need to be relocated, both for seasonal reasons and also because some routes are more popular in one direction than the other. The rental car companies offer directional specials, hoping to encourage people to rent and go against the flow and bring the vehicles back for them. It’s a supply and demand issue for them.
There’s a new website that I came upon called Imoova. It searches and has details for these one-way rentals. It seems you can find yourself paying as little as $1/day for a vehicle. Most of their listings are in New Zealand and Australia, but they have a few in the US and plan to grow further. If you have flexibility in your travel plans, this might save you money. What interested me the most are their RV relocation deals (Grant relocated an RV from Los Angeles to Denver with TransferCar). And some of their campervan deals looked good, too.
I’m a curious person so I wondered why so cheap? When I did some research, I found out that for a rental agency, relocating a car or RV for any reason is expensive. It involves hiring a transport vehicle, or paying someone to drive one way and cover their flight back. The mutually satisfying alternative is to lure customers with a low price. This gives them a prompt booking when a vehicle urgently needs to be moved, and best of all, creates a cheap road trip for people like me! For Imoova, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand are most common. I’ve noticed a few in Canada and a few have begun to pop up in Europe.
Generally, you pay the fuel costs, though incentives are common, such as partial fuel reimbursement anywhere from $50 to $500, or a free tank of fuel. From people I know who have done RV relocation trips, they find that the average posting of available vehicles is two to three weeks before a vehicle needs to be moved. As a relocation date nears, perks may be added. Rarely are deals posted a few months in advance, but when they are, it is often at a higher price such as $25/day.
I’ve driven moving trucks but never an RV, so I wondered if I needed a special license to drive one. Nope. Driving an RV isn’t hugely different from driving a regular vehicle. Apparently it’s similar to driving a truck in terms of size and operation. I was told, though, that with an RV rental you usually have to watch an instructional video and have an employee walk you through your vehicle to demonstrate its features. That makes total sense. Depending where you’re driving though, you may need an international drivers license, so check ahead if you’re planning to drive and relocate a vehicle overseas.
Probably the most common question, and one I had as well, was how many days will I have to relocate the vehicle? Depending on distance and urgency, anywhere from 3-10 days is typical. Most importantly is how many hours of the day you’ll be driving. Most rentals seem reasonable, allotting an average of 2-3 hours/day. I love road trips and have learned that it’s good to be realistic about how long you can really enjoy being in a car each day!
Insurance is another concern I had. Insurance is offered for free by some companies and not others. When it is not included in the cost, you need to decide whether you need it or if your credit card has car rental insurance. Check ahead to be clear what is covered!
Are there limits on mileage, you ask? Sometimes. One company may offer unlimited mileage, simply wanting the vehicle returned in time regardless of route, while others allow only the exact number of miles needed to drive between locations. Always check if there are mileage restrictions, as fees may apply when you exceed limits, usually as a dollar amount per extra mile, so that adds up quickly!
Can these companies be trusted? Imoova is a great search engine, but it also lists relocations for smaller agencies. If you’re using Imoova, scroll to the bottom of a rental deal (in the smaller print) to identify the company. Always search unfamiliar companies to find customer reviews. Generally, sticking with the major companies is safe.
To sum it up:
- Always research a company for customer reviews before booking.
- Check the number of days allotted and the number of hours per day you’ll be driving between destinations.
- Check for mileage restrictions and factor these when planning your route.
- See if insurance is offered and/or if rental coverage is provided by your credit card.
And there you have it, some pointers for mastering Imoova relocation deals for your next road trip. Have you done a relocation deal before? What company did you use and which search engine did you like best? Feel free to share any tips you might have for doing a relocation rental. I have a feeling I’ll try one next year!